Thanksgiving, Surgery, and Other Stuff

Hello Everyone,

Well, I don’t have anything big to report this time…and I’m thankful for that! My weight’s held steady, all of my other bodily functions have continued to occur like clockwork as they should, and I’m happy. My final Fall term of my undergraduate career is wrapping up, and BOY, I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. All of you who haven’t gone through college…It’s true that it FLIES by! I was asked the other day if I’m ready to be done with college (though I am still planning on going to nursing school), and my answer was a very firm “No”! I’m having an absolute blast this year. I’m loving where I’m living and the friends I’m living with, I’m loving my classes (for the most part!) and finding microbiology much more interesting than I thought I would, I love my job managing the gymnastics team, and overall, I’m really just loving life. Do I still have days where I feel off? Yeah, of course. But I’m no longer consumed by something that casts down so heavily on my soul. The sky being gray and gloomy outside doesn’t cause me to sink further into depression, my jeans being a little more snug than they were the day before doesn’t cause a panic attack, and a restaurant being out of the meal I was planning on having is just a reason to try something new. Thanksgiving normally brings with it a ton of stress, drama, and anxiety. This year though, for the first time in as long as I can remember, that wasn’t the case. My brother and I joined our dad, stepmom and stepsister on a trip to spend five days with my dad’s parents in California, and while there were plenty of uncertainties and events that could’ve triggered a plethora of adverse responses, they didn’t. I counted the other day, and I think I ate out 12 days in a row until I returned back to school yesterday. Is that ideal? No. But did I handle it? Yes. It was just the circumstances that arose over those couple of weeks, and I made it work. Now, I can (hopefully!) get back into my routine, but I feel like it’s situations like that that cause me to gain more confidence in myself and trust in my body. I made healthy choices for the most part during those 12 meals out, but I also went with the flow. I went for walks in the morning (and a short run, twice) during our trip, but I didn’t go out of the way to find a place I could go lift, or go buy a guest pass to a fitness studio for a week like I would’ve done in the past. I recognized that it was just five days of vacation, and while I really missed getting a good workout in, it didn’t harm my body. My clothes still fit, and I’m still me! If anything, the break helped me to come back stronger. While I didn’t feel particularly powerful in the gym today, I did certainly feel ready to get back into it, and was more pumped for my lift than I’ve been in a while!

I just realized that I don’t think I’ve posted on here that I had to have a third surgery (all within 10 months) on my wrists a little over two weeks ago. This was my second on my left hand/wrist, the other (third) being on my right one last December. This was another reason for me eating so many meals out: It’s a lot easier to purchase and eat a meal than it is to cook it when you only have one hand! Anyway, because of that, I also haven’t really been able to get in a “good” workout for a while. I didn’t do any cardio from the day I had surgery (November 9th) until I went for the two runs I just mentioned while in California, and when I say they were short, I mean short (we’re talking 15-20 minutes). I can’t lift any weights with my upper body until at least 8 weeks post-op, so my return to the gym today was solely leg focused. I’m pretty bummed about the muscle I know I’m going to lose in my upper body (I’d actually been making a lot of progress the last few months), but I’m also just that: bummed. I’m not devastated, or distraught, or in a wave of panic. I’m bummed, and that’s okay. I know that I can get it back, and I love my body for possessing the strength to get it back once it’s healthy again.

I’m so, so thankful to be in the headspace that I’m in, and I celebrated this Thanksgiving thinking of how thankful I am to have made the progress in my recovery that I have this past year. I am continually so thankful for everyone who has helped me to get to this place that I’m in, namely my family, treatment team, and close friends. I have more to be thankful for than I can even comprehend.

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Brad and me in California last week

Here’s a belated “Happy Thanksgiving” greeting from me!

Bridge

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Oh, Happy Day!

Hi Everyone!

I just had to pop back on here to share an update of some VERY exciting news.

Drumroll, please…

I started my period today! For the men that are reading this (which I know some are!) I’m sorry if this seems like TMI, but I didn’t feel I could not blog about this. I haven’t had a period in 19 months, and a regular one in five years. A period is symbolic of so many things, the most important to me being that my body is finally returning to a state of equilibrium. I have had to work SO hard to get my period back this time around. Each time I’ve lost it, it’s been hard to get it to return, but this time was by far the most difficult. It makes sense, as my psychiatrist told me that each time you lose your menstrual cycle, the body requires a higher amount of body fat before it will begin it again. It has to do with the body not trusting that you’ll continue to provide it with the nutrients it needs, and that it will continue to have an adequate fat supply. I had to go above and beyond the initial weight range that was set for me, abstain from cardio exercise for over a year and a half, and be conservative with the strength training that I’m doing. I was constantly living in a state of taking care of my delicate body. I was always having to be careful. I was intentionally consuming more fats every day, and having my hormone levels tested via blood draws once a month. I no longer have to do these things, as this was the last thing my treatment team was waiting on before declaring me “healthy” and fully, finally, weight restored.

My body is no longer delicate, it is STRONG. I don’t have to worry anymore about my bone mass deteriorating prematurely every day, or about being unable to have kids. The damage that I’ve done to my body in those regards are still valid concerns, but they are no longer getting progressively worse. It’s only uphill from here.

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Marionberry Rosemary, Lemon Lavender, Cold Brew & Pumpkin Spice. Yum!

How did I celebrate this great news, you may be wondering? Well for one, I went out and bought a box of tampons! That’s a purchase I haven’t had to make in a while! And secondly, I enjoyed some donuts from a local donut shop in Corvallis that I’d been wanting to try with my boyfriend. He didn’t know they were celebratory donuts, but I did 🙂 Some things you just don’t share with boys!

 

Okay, now it’s back to writing my research paper. I really do prefer writing for my blog! Unfortunately, that’s not what I’m going to school for!

As always, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for walking this journey with me. Today my family is praising Jesus for the miraculous work that He has done and continues to do in our life.

Also, shoutout to my incredible treatment team! I (of course) contacted all three of them as soon as I could and my dietician actually got emotional! I 100% believe that I would not be where I am today without them, and I am SO thankful that they’ve stood by my side throughout this entire journey.

In Him,

Bridge

 

A Day to Celebrate

Anniversaries are a funny thing.

Depending on what they are in remembrance of, they can bring up all sorts of different feelings. Sometimes, the same anniversary can elicit two different reactions, depending on the year, or your state of mind.

Six years ago, on this day, I was hospitalized for anorexia.

I am so happy, proud, and encouraged, that today, I am celebrating.

I’m celebrating where I am now, in contrast to where I’ve been. In years past, this hasn’t been a happy anniversary. It’s been a reminder of the battle being fought; a reminder of how much effort was being required every. single. day.

Not this year, though.

I had another weigh-in yesterday. My weight has continued to hold steady at my ultimate goal/restored weight. My mental state is the best that I think it’s ever been. I’ve graduated to only having to drive to Portland to see my therapist once a month, and psychiatrist once every two. My mom is gaining back her trust in me. I was able to go spend a weekend in Bend with one of my best friends (and roommate from last year, Claire) this past weekend, and had almost no reservations about it. I didn’t bring any of my own food, and I didn’t ask her in advance what we’d be eating. I haven’t felt this free in six years.

So today, we celebrate. I celebrate, my family and friends celebrate, my team celebrates. Most importantly, we praise and thank Jesus for the work that He has done, and that He continues to do in me.

In Him,

Bridge

The Writing on my Arm

If I had a penny for every time someone asked me about my tattoo, I’d be a rich lady! And for the sake of this college girl’s wallet, I WISH that were the case! Nevertheless, I get asked about my tattoo a lot. I love that. It’s part of the reason I decided to get it in such a visible place, because I knew it would be a great conversation starter. It definitely has been. I’ve been asked about it by strangers on the MAX, professors in a college class, baristas at Starbucks, sorority girls during RUSH…the list goes on, and on, and on.

I get asked about it so frequently, that I feel like I should have a pretty good handle on how I like to explain it by now. For whatever reason though, I don’t. It’s because of that, that I decided to write this blog post today. I want to finally express what the writing on my arm means to me.

I’ve never been much of a tattoo person. I’ve said from the beginning that this tattoo on my arm is the only one I’ll ever have, and I maintain that to this day…despite all the warnings from other “tattooies” that assured me I would get hooked after one. Not the case! I don’t care for the look of tattoos, and I’ve never really appreciated them as art. In my opinion, if I want a beautiful piece of art, I’ll get it printed on a canvas and hung in my living room, not on my body. Clearly though, I have a tattoo. So why the exception? Why is Ecclesiastes 7:5 written in permanent tattoo ink on my arm?

As with all bible verses, there are multiple translations of Ecclesiastes 7:5, but my favorite is the New Living Translation. It says,

“It is better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool.”

There are a lot of ways to interpret all bible verses, but the way I take this one, is that my eating disorder is the fool. For years (six now), it’s tried to convince me to trust it. It’s made my family, my friends, and medical professionals, out to be liars, when in actuality, they were just loving, concerned people…and rightly so. They were telling me truth, it just wasn’t the truth that my E.D. wanted me to hear. It turned me into a liar, believing that pleasing it was the only important thing in my life, putting to the side my relationships with all others, including with God.

This verse was shown to me at a time when I needed it most; the first time I ever went through treatment. I was fifteen years old. I was vulnerable, scared, and running on pretty close to empty. The eight months of treatment I entered into, was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through in my fifteen years of life (and I’d gone through some tough stuff). I knew that I had to fully surrender myself to Jesus if I was going to come out on the other side of this disease, if I was going to beat anorexia. It was then that this verse sort-of became my life mantra. It still is, and I’m reminded of it every time I look down at my arm. It reminds me in my eating disorder, but also in all other areas of life, that I am not the end all, be all. I do not know everything. And sometimes, what’s inside my own head is the fool. It’s up to me to take a step back, and decide who I’m going to listen to. Will I choose to listen to the voice inside my own head, the fool? Or will I choose to listen to the other voice, the voice of wise counsel, both of Jesus, and of those who He has placed in my life to guide me?

So, that is what Ecclesiastes 7:5 means to me. I guess it wasn’t that hard to explain after all!

In all other news, my recovery is going great. I had a fun week of celebrating my twenty-first birthday with friends, which included multiple instances of going out to eat. And guess what the crazy part is? I actually wanted to. Celebrating, even by way of food, sounded fun to me. I truthfully cannot remember the last time that was the case. My weight has continued to hold in the middle of my healthy weight range, and both my treatment team and I are very proud of that.

I think it’s going to be a great year.

In Him,

Bridge

Moving Forward

Hello there!

It’s been a while! And I am happy to say that this is 100% a good thing. My life has been busy this summer, but I am so happy. With the exception of doctor appointments (and even those are beginning to dwindle a bit), my life has consisted of “normal” 20 year old busyness, and I am so, so thankful for that.

It dawned on me this morning (while I was coaching at swim practice, and had a fresh blackberry that one of the lifeguards offered me) just how far I’ve come in the last few months. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but MAN, I almost started crying as I thought about it! I didn’t even give a second thought to having an extra bite of fruit, after having already had breakfast, and me refusing to eat a fresh blackberry (Yes, just ONE!) from the bushes while my mom and I went for a walk is something we argued about frequently just six months ago.

Because of that realization, I decided to pop on here and make a list of recent happenings that I am proud of. Here goes.

  1. Timing: The time at which I eat my meals and snacks has become so much more flexible. I used to eat breakfast at 8:30, morning snack at 11, lunch at 1, afternoon snack at 4, dinner at 7, and evening snack at 9. On. The. Dot. As you can probably imagine, being this rigid around meal and snack times can be a challenge for, well, life. I would turn down social situations so that I could make sure I was home to eat my food. And no, eating out with a friend wasn’t an option (see #2 and #4), so that meant I couldn’t do anything with anyone for about half of my day. Talk about a challenge!
  2. Variation in Food Choices: The list of foods that I’m comfortable eating has grown, a lot. I used to rotate between 2 or 3 meal plans, and would eat those same meals and snacks every day. Yes, every day, and no, I did not get tired of them (Which is weird, I know. Welcome to living with an eating disorder!). I’ve begun experimenting in the kitchen more, which for the most part, I am actually enjoying. I’ve discovered that I really like sautéed kale, and have been using that in a lot of bowls and salads as opposed to my usual romaine lettuce base. I’m really proud of myself for this, because I continued to use it even after realizing that kale contains quite a bit more calories than romaine. I also know, however, that it has more nutrients, which is something that wouldn’t have mattered to me a few months ago (more calories = not going to eat it, regardless of the nutritional value), but now, I am able to appreciate.
  3. Dating: I’ve gone on a few dates. Like actual, real dates where we got food, not just “grabbing coffee.” I was telling my mom, you don’t realize how much you’re limiting yourself by only allowing social interactions to occur around coffee (which was my life for the last few years), until you start expanding that and being okay with going to get a meal, or ice cream, or whatever. It sure is a lot more fun, and opens up WAY more doors. Who knows if anything will come of these dates, but regardless, they have been fun opportunities for me to have to step outside of my normal routine, and get to know new people.
  4. Eating Out: Kind of going off that last one, going out to eat doesn’t scare me anymore. I can remember a time (not long ago!) when I couldn’t imagine myself ever being able to go out to a restaurant and order something off the menu. Ever. I really thought that wouldn’t happen for me. I’m proud to say that that is not the case anymore! While some restaurants may be more of a challenge than others, I’m pretty confident that I can find SOMETHING that I am comfortable eating on any menu. As a matter of fact, my mom and I are even planning a little staycation before I go back to school, and included in those plans are a few restaurants around Portland that I want to try. Yes, you read that right! That I. WANT. TO. TRY. Wooot!
  5. Fluctuations: I’m way more okay with fluctuations. This is a big one as well. A couple of times at weigh-ins, my weight’s been up a little, and other times, it’s been down a little, which is completely normal, but to me a few months ago, would’ve been terrifying. I haven’t allowed those minor differences in my weight to determine what I ate that day or the following one, and I’ve continued to adhere to my meal plan, per my doctor’s orders. I trust that my body knows where it wants to be, and frankly, I’m really not scared of what would happen if I ended up gaining another pound or two. To be honest, I feel like I’ve already had to gain so much weight, that one or two pounds just doesn’t seem like the end of the world. I’m practically pinching myself as I’m writing this, because I can remember the way it made me feel, like my skin was crawling, when just a couple of months ago, my doctor asked how I would feel if I ended up having to gain another pound or two. I’m seeing huge progress here. Huge. Progress.
  6. Body Dysmorphia: I have a more accurate view of my body. I don’t see myself as “fat”, which, even though I’ve always known that medically I wasn’t, my own view of myself was so skewed that even a few months ago, I would’ve bet you money that I was. I am gaining muscle through weight-lifting, which I’m proud of, but I also think that I’m just getting more comfortable in my own skin. My treatment team has been telling me FOREVER that this would happen (medically speaking, distorted body image is a side-effect of being even just a pound or two underweight), and I’m elated that it finally has. I still have days where I don’t love my body, but who doesn’t? I’m trying to focus more on the things that it CAN do than the things that it isn’t.
  7. Exercise: I’m less rigid in my exercise. This is a huge one for me. I love working out, and I always have. The euphoric feeling people often refer to as a “runner’s high,” I seem to get whenever I get my heart rate up. And to be honest, I think I’ve always been that way, but for a good chunk of my recent life, my eating disorder stole that from me. I worked out because I had to, because I was scared of what my body would do if I didn’t burn X number of calories on the elliptical for even one day, because I didn’t trust my body to take the food that I was giving it and use it to nourish itself, etc. The list could go on, and on, and on. Recently, since having been cleared to add cardiovascular exercise back into my life after an 18-month hiatus, I’ve been able to enjoy things like lap swimming, hiking, circuits with weights, and power yoga. I have some other bodily issues (which have been very frustrating) that are making running not an option for me right now, and I’m staying away from doing cardio machines for the foreseeable future, but these other fun ways of exercise have helped me to realize that I DO love working out, and not just for the sake of burning calories. I’m so incredibly proud of myself for taking the long break from cardio that I did, because now, I’m not scared of what will happen to my body if I take a few days off from working out. I used to be held captive by the monitor that would read how many calories I’ve burned, and now I’m getting to redefine my relationship with exercise in a completely new and healthy way. And, most importantly, I’m having fun while I’m doing it!

Whew! That was quite a list! There are more things, but those are the major ones, and all that I’m going to take the time for. Did I mention it’s been a busy summer?

In all honesty, the hardest part of recovery right now, is that I’m still not “recovered,” even though for the most part, I feel like I am. Both my mom and my treatment team are still very wary of me slipping backwards, and that has been frustrating for me. I would like for my doctors and therapy appointments to be reduced to once every few weeks or so, but no one else is on board with that just yet.

I have to continually remind myself that they are this way because of how many times I’ve relapsed. And I understand it…but still, it can be hard. I get mad when my mom isn’t giving my praise or compliments (full disclaimer…my mom gives me A LOT of praise and compliments…but she gives me constructive criticism, too!), or when she asks me to send her a meal plan for the umpteenth day in a row, but usually, once I take a step back and take a deep breath, I can identify where she’s coming from, and then I’m okay.

Well, I think that’s it! As always, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for following along on my recovery journey. It’s never been easy, but it’s always been worth it.

In Him,

Bridge

Finally Weight Restored, My First Run & That Oh So Coveted “Summer Body”

Well…I finally did it. I’m there. As of Thursday, June 29th, 2017, I am officially, 100% weight restored. I have never restored this much weight without re-entering inpatient treatment, and I am so proud of myself. To celebrate, that night my mom, brother, and I went to a Brad Paisley concert. I’d actually purchased the tickets for us a while ago (it was a birthday present for my mom), but it was quite convenient that it fell on the same day as one we wanted to celebrate! We planned on eating dinner there, but didn’t know what would be available. Yes, if you’re wondering, this in itself was a big deal. Spontaneity when it comes to eating is not easy for me! Anyway, we got to the concert and looked at the food options. There was the traditional concession food: hot dogs, pizza, french fries, etc., but there was also a food truck. It was Bunk Sandwiches, which is a pretty well known sandwich shop in Portland. I’d never had a sandwich from there before (frankly, the thought terrified me), but I realized that I had two options. I could have a probably not very good, overpriced item from the concession stand, or I could try something new, something unique that would probably taste pretty darn good. So, on the day I became weight restored, when it would’ve been very, very easy to restrict because I no longer needed to gain weight, I chose what I wanted. That was monumental. And yes, the sandwich was delicious. I ate the entire thing, even though my mom said I didn’t have to! I had wanted to order the turkey sandwich, but they were out of turkey…so, I had to change my plan. That was an additional challenge. But, I adjusted, and chose another that sounded good (albeit more difficult!): the muffuletta.

The next morning, I drove myself to Nike World Headquarters (the campus is less than a ten minute drive from my house!) and went for a run. Yes, you read that right — I went for a run. It had been 18 months and two days since the last time I’d done cardio exercise. 18 months and 2 days is a very long time. I was humbled at how difficult running for just 25 minutes was for me! It was incredible, all the same. And knowing that I’d waited until my body was really and truly healthy enough to endure it made it all the more special. I deserved this run, and I felt it.

One “side effect” of having now gained the weight that I did? My clothes don’t fit. Oh yeah. Clothes. Kind of important. My dad had told me a while back (when I was first starting to notice my clothes getting tighter) that he would buy me some new clothes that fit me at my restored weight once I got there. Today, he and I went to Nordstrom Rack to try and find some things. I probably tried on over fifty items, and I walked away with two. Everything else either didn’t fit right, or just plain didn’t look good. That was really hard for me. It was really (really, really, REALLY) hard for me to have to go up two pant sizes from where I was just a couple of months ago. It was really hard for me to try on a shirt and see it hug a little too snug in places where it didn’t in the spring. And what was most frustrating, was just not liking the reflection of the body I saw when I looked in the mirror.

My first thoughts were: Bridgette, you’ve let yourself go. How did this happen… You had a body you worked so hard for, and now you’ve lost it.

But then, I caught myself. I changed my thought pattern. I started telling myself these things: This body allowed me to go for a run on Friday morning for the first time in over a year and a half. This body was able to swim laps yesterday, something I haven’t been able to do in years. This body was able to enjoy a beach vacation with my family last weekend, complete with eating the meals that they ate, having a piece of my childhood favorite beach treat (dark chocolate seafoam!) and SURFING. This body, is my healthy body. It’s able to do all of the things my sick body couldn’t do and more.

Living in the world we do, there’s a lot of focus on getting a “summer body.” We’re inundated with advertisements for products that promise quick fixes, magazine articles that claim they have the top exercises to trim your tummy, and images of photoshopped celebrities who look unlike 99% of the population (many of whom don’t even look like the actual celebrity in real life, in the first place!).

What I’m learning, is that my ideal summer body doesn’t look like anything at all. My ideal summer body is one that allows me to live my life to the fullest. It’s one that’s healthy enough to go for a hike when a friend invites me to go on one with her family. It’s able to go out to a fair and enjoy a milkshake on occasion. And for me, it’s one that has a little bit of fat on it.

This summer has been great so far. It’s been really busy, but all full of good things. My internship with Medtronic is going fabulously; I’m getting to stand next to a surgeon as he implants a pacemaker into a patient’s heart, and I’m not quite sure what more I could ask for beyond that! I’m loving coaching the summer swim team, and my online class is going fine (let’s be honest, I’d be happy to not have that be a part of my summer!). I hope to write more later, but for now, that’s it.

🙂 Bridge

 

Netflix’s New Movie: To The Bone

Netflix recently released the trailer for a new movie that will be available to stream this July. It’s called To The Bone, and it’s about a girl with anorexia nervosa. Since being released, the trailer has begun appearing more and more frequently on my Facebook newsfeed. Each time it’s popped up, I’ve told myself to ignore it. I’ve tried to shove it out of my head and keep it out of my mind… But that’s gotten harder to do the more people hear about it, and subsequently, repost, retweet, hashtag, and comment on it. I know that as time goes on, and especially once it’s available to stream, it’s going to come up even more frequently, and people will be talking about it. Just like they did with 13 Reasons Why.

I know there are a lot of different opinions about the show 13 Reasons Why, and I’m sure there are going to be a lot about To The Bone as well. I’m not going to try to convince you of which “side” you should be on, of whether it’s helpful and raising awareness, or triggering and should be taken off the internet. I’m just going to share my perspective as someone who has spent a good portion of her life struggling the disorder being dramatized as Netflix’s newest movie.

Last night, after having scrolled past the To The Bone trailer probably 50 times, I gave in. I watched the trailer. And I so wish I could undo it. The first snippet from the film shows the main character, played by actress Lily Collins, calorie counting, compulsively exercising, and weighing herself. Classic eating disorder behaviors. Behaviors I know all too well, and that I really, really didn’t need to watch play out in front of me.

I didn’t watch the entire trailer, and I know that I can’t fairly judge the movie unless I do so. I won’t, and I don’t need to. I don’t care to judge the entire movie, I just want to talk about the things I do know from the parts I did see.

My initial thoughts after watching it were, “No.” No no no no no no no. No, I did not want this to be a movie. No, I did not want this to be on Netflix, accessible to me or anyone else  whose struggled with the life-threatening mental illness. No, I didn’t want it to be “glamorized” for younger viewers, or for anyone, really, who could watch it and get ideas on “how to become anorexic.”

I can’t remember if I’ve talked about this on here before, but something I find myself struggling with a lot in my recovery, is possessiveness of my eating disorder. A big (big, big, BIG) part of my eating disorder was a type of “frozen dessert” called Arctic Zero. My mom now jokes about it, saying “Yeah, ZERO flavor!.” It’s a diet ice cream (if you can even call it “cream,” since there’s none in it!) that’s very low in calorie and even lower in flavor. But for me, during my disorder, it was a god-send. It got me through days when I hadn’t allowed myself to eat anything else, because I could eat that entire pint of ice cream, for only 150 calories. It’s still very triggering to me, to this day.

There’s a competing brand of ice cream called Halo Top. It’s been around for a while, but has become trendy in the recent year. It’s also triggering for me, for the same reason: it’s a diet ice cream, and it takes me back to that dark time of my disorder. Ironically, I never allowed myself to eat Halo Top because it was a whopping 240 calories for the whole pint. That’s less than a single one of my three snacks now, not to mention the additional three meals I eat each day! I’ve very intentionally stayed away from both Arctic Zero and Halo Top since being in recovery. I won’t even walk past them in the grocery store; they just bring up too many bad memories. With Halo Top becoming more popular in the recent year, however, it’s become harder to stay away from. I can still remember the first time I opened the freezer at my house in Corvallis and saw a pint of Halo Top, staring back at me. One of my roommates had bought it. She didn’t know what it meant to me; how would she? Nevertheless, I called my mom crying, overcome with emotions of sadness, frustration, and jealousy.

Jealousy? You may be wondering if that’s really what I meant. I can assure you, it is. It might sound silly, but it’s true. My mom’s compared my feelings around Arctic Zero and Halo Top to that of a jealous ex-girlfriend. That’s my special food. It was my saving grace. How dare you try to steal that from me? I can’t have it anymore, and now you get to?! (Trust me, I realize how dumb this sounds!).

Anyway, back to last night. I watched the first part of the trailer, and immediately felt like a knife was being twisted through my small intestines. That jealous feeling was back. wanted to be Lily Collins. wanted to tell this story. wanted to be able to tell it my way, and I wanted it to be done right.

My feelings during and after watching the trailer took me back to a time when I made the mistake of reading an excerpt from a book my mom was reading, when I was in treatment the first time (at age 15). The book is called “Brave Girl Eating,” and it’s excellently written. The author, Harriet Brown, wrote it about her experience going through anorexia recovery with her daughter. While it contains incredibly detailed content that is undoubtedly potentially triggering, it was written with the intent of being a resource for parents of children with eating disorders, or really, I guess, for anyone wanting more insight into what someone recovering from anorexia nervosa is experiencing. For me, however, reading the few pages I did sent me into a tailspin. That might’ve been my first panic attack ever, I’m not sure, but I vividly remember lying on the stairs, where I’d found the book, hands over my ears, eyes closed, bawling. All of the memories I’d been trying so hard to keep out of my head came flooding back, it was like I was reliving the darkest of my eating disorder days.

But you know what? That doesn’t mean the book shouldn’t have been published. It doesn’t mean it’s not a great book, and an incredible resource.

It simply means that I’m not the audience.

I think that this show, if done well, has the ability to be a great resource. I think it could inform people, and hopefully steer them away from playing around with the number one cause of death by mental illness. I won’t be watching it, and that’s okay. I don’t need to. I’ve lived it.

Something I’m learning more and more as I go through recovery, is that just because something is not good for me, doesn’t mean it’s not good.

I’m part of a fairly strong E.D. recovery community on Instagram. There’s been a lot of talk about this show in the recent week, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one with this viewpoint. I’ll have to thank my conversation with my mom for that one. I’ve seen people write, “How dare they put out content that’s so triggering?” and “What kind of twisted person could stand to watch a show like that?” and so on and so forth.

The word, “triggering,” is thrown around a lot nowadays. I realized, when thinking further about this matter, that I was being quite hypocritical. I hate when people are overly-concerned with triggering others. I don’t want to sound too harsh here and say a blanket statement that I think everyone should just “grow a thicker skin,” but as a rule of thumb, that is more along the lines of my opinion. How can I say that, though, if I don’t believe that when it’s actually something that applies to me?

I realized, today, that if I say this show shouldn’t be allowed to air, I’m being that person that I get so frustrated with. I’m being the one who needs to be protected, who’s saying, “You can’t do that, because it affects me.” I don’t want to be that person. I’m working on realizing that my issue shouldn’t become everyone else’s issue, and that’s hard. It would be a lot easier if the entire world was a safe place where nothing anyone did ever adversely affected anyone else. Unfortunately, that’s not reality, and that is something that I will continue to work through.

On another note, my blog was chosen this week as one of the Top 100 eating disorder blogs on the internet, and I was given a cool badge to display on my page 🙂 So, if you’re wondering what caused the change in my site’s appearance, that’s it! The old layout didn’t have a spot where I could display the badge, so I decided to change it up a bit.

 

-Bridge

 

The Best Year Yet

On Thursday I said, “Goodbye,” to the house I’ve lived in since last June. I’d never lived in a house with three other girls, or any other girls for that matter, before. It was a growing experience in so many ways.

I didn’t expect to cry when I left, but I did. There were so many emotions running through my mind. As I told one of my dearest friends, and roommate, Claire, while we said our goodbyes (although we did clarify…it’s not a goodbye, just a see-you-later!), as she’s graduating from Oregon State today, the four of us did so much more than just “live” together. We learned together, laughed together, and most importantly, loved together. She was quick to point out how much we grew together, too, and I’d have to agree. It’s really weird for me to think back to this time last year and where I was mentally. I feel like I’m a completely different person. We laughed when I pointed out that I think all summer last year, I had five things in the fridge at all times. Five things, and only five things. All summer. I ate the same breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and evening snack, all summer. For three months. That’s a lot of the same! Now, I’m getting better at switching things up, and when opportunities come up that push me out of my comfort zone, most of the time, I take them. It’s still not easy, but it doesn’t cause me to break out in panic, and the majority of the time, I even end up enjoying it! I’m learning more and more that life is better without my eating disorder.

My mom and I were running errands last night, and I got teary eyed at the check-out of Home Depot. It’s going to sound ridiculous, I know… But you know where they sell candies and things on the shelf next to the check-out? I saw Reese’s peanut butter cups, Twix, and sunflower seeds, all sitting along the shelf. Claire’s favorite things! Oh, how I will miss her! And that’s such an incredible feeling. To have grown so close with someone that simply seeing their favorite treats will bring you close to tears. I’ve never had that before. I’ve had close friends, yes. Lots of them, actually! But there’s something about a roommate that’s different. They’re there all the time. Especially during such a transformative year for me. They were there after each appointment, when there were tears of sadness and tears of joy. They were there when I lost Rocky, when Bradley played his last football game (they actually came to that game!), when I had to have two hand surgeries in six months, when I didn’t think I could make it through one more week of anatomy and chemistry… They were there through all of it. To give pep talks, hugs, share in the sadness or rejoicing I was experiencing, and just to be a listening ear. This year, more than anything, I think I learned the value of relationships. The value of truly living life with someone, or multiple someones! The coolest thing about that, is that it’s the exact opposite of what an eating disorder wants. It’s often said in treatment, eating disorders thrive in secrecy. They desire seclusion, delusion, and anxiety and depression. There’s a reason I’ve never lived with roommates before this year, and it’s not because I just prefer to be independent. It’s largely been due to my E.D. I feel so blessed to have lived with girls who were such positive influences in my life. They were each so healthy, in their own way. Some ate “cleaner” than others, some worked out more, but all lived a life of balance. Each of them was down to grab pizza at 8 o’clock if someone offered it up, none of them were scared to try a bite of someone else’s food, each of them worked out because it made them feel good. I’d be silly to think that being surrounded each of these girls’ healthy mindsets wasn’t critical in helping me develop my own. I know that Jesus placed each of these girls in my life for a reason, and I am so much more thankful for that than I can put into words. So, Claire, Anna, and Molly… Thank you.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I’d sort of forgotten (I’m not a terrible daughter, I had gotten him a present…I just forgot about the typical celebration part!), and had planned to go out to a smoothie bar with my friend, Savannah. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while… Honestly, something that I’ve been wanting to do for years (!): Go to Kure and get a smoothie bowl. It’s a pretty trendy thing to do in Portland, and honestly, I think I’m the last one of my friends to have ever not had one…but due to E.D. reasons, I never have. I’d gone to Kure, twice. But never have I gotten a bowl (it’s a smoothie base, topped with granola). It was going to be a challenge for me, but I was up for it! Anyway, the plan was to go Sunday morning. Then, my mom reminded me about Father’s Day. Shoot. We proooobably should go out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner with my Dad. That was going to mean two challenge meals, basically back to back. Oh, and how had I forgotten? My mom and brother and I had made plans for a family friend to come over tonight to play games…and have dessert. Yeah, the D-word. Three things in 24 hours?!! Ohhhh boy.

You know what, though? I’m feeling up to it. And that’s the part that’s so cool about growth. Along the way, I didn’t notice how much each “challenge food” I’d done, each last minute things I’d said yes to, each “full-fat” thing I’d ordered, etc. thing was making me grow, but now I’m seeing the results of it. Am I still slightly stressed about the fact that I have all of these more difficult things coming up in such a short period of time? Yeah, it’s not ideal. But it’s life. And more and more, I’m learning to embrace that.

In Him,

Bridge

 

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Until it’s Gone

There’s a well known quote, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” I’ve always heard that quote in a negative context, as in: you don’t realize how much you’ll miss something until you don’t have it anymore. I’m beginning to see it in a way I never thought about it, though — that you don’t realize how bad something is, until the weight of it is removed from you.

As the veil of both my anxiety and depression are gradually lifting, I’m seeing the light at the end of this tunnel more and more. Little things are making me smile. I find myself laughing — not forcing a chuckle, but actually laughing — frequently.

I realized late this morning, after having had quite a few frustrating things happen, that I was still feeling okay. In fact, I was still feeling better than I can recall feeling at any point over the last few months (maybe year). It’s like I didn’t realize how bad my depression and anxiety were until I was no longer held captive by them. I didn’t realize that it was my depression that was causing me to take naps most days, not because I was tired, but because I didn’t want to sit through the torturous thoughts that would come through my head, from after I’d finished breakfast to when I had my snack, and then again from that time to when I’d later eat lunch. And on a really bad day, again from lunch on through dinner. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to have to work so hard to smile, even when around people who used to make me truly happy. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to feel so drained of energy all the time, even when I’d gotten a full eight-hours of sleep the night before.

One of the hardest things in this recovery process is trusting. Those of us in treatment hear it all the time: Trust your team. Trust your dietician. Trust your psychiatrist. Trust your therapist. Trust your parents. But it’s a lot harder than it sounds! By trusting, we’re allowing one of the most important things in our lives, our eating disorder, to be taken out of our hands, and submitting to those who know better. There’s nothing they can tell us that’s reassuring enough. My team had told me many a time, “Trust us. It will get better.” And now, I’m finally seeing the fruits of my labor, the benefits of my trusting paying off. With that, I feel my trust I have for my team growing even stronger. I trust that they know what’s best for me, even if I don’t like it, and even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. I know that they have my best interest at heart, and I know that they’re walked this journey with other patients, too — patients who didn’t think it would get better, but for whom it did.

I’m stressed right now. Between going through training for my new summer job, finalizing details for my internship, studying for finals, still commuting Corvallis to Portland and back each weekend, etc., my plate is pretty full. But despite all of those things, I feel lighter. Not physically (my E.D. wishes!), but mentally and emotionally lighter. I don’t feel like I’ll snap if one more thing goes wrong, and I don’t feel exhausted when I wake up in the morning.

I did something challenging today. I got rid of about 50 pieces of clothing. Some of it will be sold, and the rest donated. My therapist has been encouraging me for a while to go through my closet and take out the clothes that are no longer fitting me, as they’re not serving any purpose besides reminding me that I’m gaining weight! The process of getting rid of clothes is challenging though. Not just because they no longer fit me, as I know that can be challenging for the average person as well, but because getting rid of them implies that I’m not going back to a weight where they will fit again. Ever. That sort of finality is scary, it means that I’m letting go of another layer of my eating disorder. As I shared on my recovery Instagram account (@balancedbridge), last week I said, “Goodbye,” to a pair of jeans that had a lot of emotional meaning to me. The quoted text below was how I captioned the photo.

Well, the day has come.
My body-checking jeans are officially too small.
My therapist has told me to get rid of this pair of jeans countless times, and I kept putting it off.
This morning, as I strained to pull them over my ever-growing thighs, I realized that the time had finally come. They are too tight.
It’s with great sadness that I say goodbye to these jeans. They’ve been with me through a lot. I told my therapist that I couldn’t get rid of them, because that symbolized really moving on from my eating disorder. I’ve used these jeans to body-check since I got them my senior year of high school. That’s four years. That’s a LONG time.
Today though, I am choosing recovery. Today, I’m moving forward. And today, I’m saying goodbye to these jeans 👋🏼

If you don’t know what body-checking is, it’s a term used in the E.D. community for measuring one’s body, and it’s always regarded in a negative way. For me, getting rid of the pair of jeans I’ve used to body-check (there were a few other items of clothing used for that as well, but I got rid of them when I was in the PHP program last year) is a pretty big step. I hope to never have to get rid of another item of clothes used for body-checking, as I hope to be ridding myself of that nasty habit.

I know I said I probably wouldn’t blog again before the end of the school year (and I meant it when I said it!), but it’s just such a great outlet for me! I decided to write a post because of today being celebrated worldwide as “National Eating Disorder Action Day.” If you want to read more about what this day means, click here.

 

If you’re reading this, thank you for supporting me and following my journey. Happy June, and I hope you’re able to enjoy this beautiful sunshine!

🙂 Bridge

 

A Great Day

Yesterday was a great day.

Nothing in particular “happened” to make it that way, but the way I’ve been feeling made it so.

I haven’t been cleared to do more activity, my period hasn’t returned, and I’m not yet done with classes for the term (TWO MORE WEEKS). Yet, for some reason, I’m feeling awesome.

My therapist said on Thursday that I seem like a whole different person. Dr. Rock concurred with her at my check-in with him on Friday.

And you know what’s cool?

I weigh the most I have in over three years. I feel the best I have in that time frame.

My treatment team has told me that as I got into a healthier weight range, I would probably start to feel better. I didn’t think they could possibly right. I guess that maybe they were! I feel the most vibrant, full-of-life, and confident that I can remember feeling since, honestly, ever. And that is despite a lovely zit that’s made it’s home in the center of my forehead!

I know that I’d be naive to think that it’s all going to be a downhill battle from here. I know it won’t be. My meal plan just got increased (again), due to my weight holding fairly constant despite the amount of food I’m putting into it. I’m handling it well, though,  agreeing to make the additions necessary and continuing to move forward. I also have begun to get intermittent cramps, something I’m really (really really really) hoping is a sign of my period on it’s way back. We’ll see!

The photos below are from yesterday. My mom, brother, and his girlfriend came down to Corvallis to go to a baseball game, and I was able to give them a tour of the Football center, where I work. We had a blast. As I said in my Instagram caption, “The sun was out, Beaver baseball won 11-0, and I got to show my fam around the ol’ workplace. Couldn’t ask for a better day!”

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, Everyone. Thank you to all of those who have, will, or are currently serving our country ❤️

🙂 Bridge

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